NAMM 2015: Remo develops drums tuned to those with disabilities

NAMM show: Remo introduces drums more user-friendly to those with disabilities

At the 2015 National Assn. Of Music Merchants show in Anaheim, it sounded like heresy to hear a marketing honcho for one of the world's leading drum manufacturers say, "We're not trying to turn everyone into a professional drummer."

After all NAMM is where more than 5,000 brands of all kinds of instruments, equipment or music  accessory are on display, and reps for all the companies that make them are pounding out the deals for selling them in the year ahead.

But the thrust of Alyssa Janny's comment at the Remo drum booth on opening day Thursday of the four-day convention referred to a new line of drums designed to be more user-friendly -- and potentially healing -- for people with autism, Alzheimer's and other disabilities.

Remo hosted a demonstration of its new Comfort Sound Technology percussion instruments as played by three members of the house band at Oceanside's Teri Campus of Life, which serves about 600 people of various disabilities from 6 to 75 years old.

"A lot of people in this community are very sensitive to sound," said George Thompson, Teri's performing arts director.  "These drums are much more accessible to a lot of them."

Remo developed a drum head and frame for various size drums that eliminate overtones common to conventional drums--sounds that can severely affect those susceptible to sensory overload.

Teri has been part of a pilot program incorporating the drums in music therapy sessions that bolster communication and social interaction, and can also help with speech disabilities and other ‎issues through rhythm training.

Thompson said the new drums are usable by nearly all Teri's clients, whereas conventional drums "were good for only a small percentage of them."

As two of Teri's students--one with Down syndrome, the other with unspecified developmental disabilities--pounded happily on a 40-inch table drum, a third student sat beneath the drum head joyously soaking up its extreme low vibrations--down to 31 cycles per second.

Which leads back to Janny's point. The goal isn't finding the next Chad Smith or Buddy Rich.

"We just want to help people to use rhythm‎ to make their lives better," she said.

 Follow me at @RandyLewis.

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